September 2022
Pat and Tillie Bishop Legacy Initiative
New program to support high school extracurricular activities
for decades to come

Community Foundation staff present Dr. Brian Hill and several D51 high school principals
a first check from the new legacy fund established by Pat and Tillie Bishop
Pat Bishop taught business education at Central High School for more than two decades and was responsible for setting up the first Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club in the Grand Valley. She always valued the importance of school club and extracurricular activities for students. Such programs teach valuable non-academic skills, encourage team work and provide a smaller community within the larger high school setting, fostering connection and a sense of belonging for participating students.

Our Community Foundation is the beneficiary of a significant charitable gift from the estate of the late Tillie and Pat Bishop. Their donation is earmarked for a new program. The Pat and Tillie Bishop Legacy Initiative will support high school students in extracurriculars.

This 2022-23 school year will be a pilot for the program. A total of $100,000 in funding is being made available to the five public high schools in Mesa County, with allocations made to each school based on the size of the student body and percentage of free/reduced lunch enrollment. Each high school will determine its own priorities within the program guidelines and develop a competitive application process for club and athletic sponsors to submit requests for funding. High schools will report on how funds are spent at the end of the year, with a new round of funding to be made available for the following school year.

Funds may be used for extracurricular programs, such as band, theater, math and science clubs, speech and debate, robotics, Knowledge Bowl, CTE programs (FBLA, FFA, FCCLA), and other activities. While individual students may not apply for funds, clubs may request support for participation fees for students with financial hardship who might otherwise not be able to participate. Funding may also be used to support travel to in-state competitions. Sports and athletic programs are capped at 20% of available funds each year.

Notes Dr. Brian Hill, Superintendent of Schools, "“On behalf of School District 51, we are honored to receive this generous donation from Tillie and Pat Bishop in support of extracurricular activities in our D51 high schools. Pat and Tillie both understood the importance of investing in and supporting children in our community, and because of their generous donation, extracurricular activities at all five D51 high schools will flourish in a way that will make a positive impact on numerous D51 students for years to come.”

Several months ago, Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College announced their new Learn for Less affordable tuition initiative. Made possible in large part through the Bishops' estate donation to the local university, the cost of tuition for career and technical education colleges will be reduced by nearly 40%. This makes WCCC much more affordable for young people.

Our Community Foundation's initiative to support students in high schools rounds out and completes the Bishop legacy and commitment to education. Their generosity supports secondary and higher education in our community well into the future.
2022 College Scholarships
Over $750,000 Committed to 99 Students
Grace C. graduated from Grand Junction High School in May and is one of 99
graduating seniors winning a scholarship from our Community Foundation
Fall means back to school for many students across western Colorado. For nearly 100 students from the class of 2022, that means starting the next step in their education with financial help from one of the many scholarship funds managed by our Community Foundation.

Thanks to our generous donors, 99 students were awarded a total of $768,800 in scholarships to realize their dream of furthering their education through college or vocational programs.

Featured in the photo above, Grace C. graduated from Grand Junction High School.  Her work as a paraprofessional has fostered her desire to major in Elementary Education with a minor in Spanish. She has been awarded the Willson Education Scholarship and is attending Colorado Mesa University. One of 38 different scholarship funds managed by our regional Community Foundation, the Willson Education Scholarship was established in 2013 and has distributed a total of $334,500 to date to a total of 51 students from Mesa and Delta counties.
Grantee Spotlight
Lunch Lizard Update
The Fleet is Now Complete!

Our Community Foundation is delighted to announce that, thanks to our generous donors and the larger community, the Lunch Lizard fleet is now complete! Dan Sharp, Director of Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) at Mesa County Valley School District 51, ended last school year with two Lunch Lizard trucks that were becoming less reliable by the day and both nearing 20 years in age. Family members of the Ferris Family Fund at WCCF provided grant funding to District 51’s FNS to get a new food truck, just in time to kick off the summer program. Our Community Foundation launched a campaign in May, “Complete the Fleet”, to raise $100,000 from the community to purchase a second new food truck to better support the program. Thanks to a generous, anonymous donor, along with community donations, the campaign was fulfilled before summer’s end.

The Lunch Lizard Mobile Meals Program wrapped up its eighth summer at the end of July, providing over 19,000 lunches to children ages 0-18 at community locations. This program is a fun, engaging means to ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals in the summer. Approximately 50% of District 51 students are eligible for free and reduced price meals at school, and many do not have access to meals in the summer months when schools are closed.

The new food trucks can transport 400 meals per run, rather than the 250 meals the smaller older trucks transport. All meals are made in School District kitchens and then placed in the trucks for mobile delivery.
Community Foundation Updates

Nearly seventy youth, providers, families and volunteers came out to spend half of their Saturday at our recent SPARC (Strategic Perspectives Accelerating Real Change) Youth Forum this past weekend in Montrose. Engagement and enthusiasm were evident between the audience, presenters and youth panel discussions.

The SPARC Forum speakers included Elizabeth Clark, who works with our Community Foundation on our CyberStrong and Regulation Station initiatives, Dr. Anna Mueller whose research on social worlds and Youth Well-Being is funded in part by our Foundation, as well as Caleb Ferganchick, local poet and activist, and Dr. Aixa Powell, Chief Research Officer for CASA of the 7th District and international consultant on education and organizational change.

Read more about the SPARC Forum here
2021 Annual Report

WCCF's 2021 Annual Report is ready! We are excited to share stories of donor generosity and grantmaking impact across our seven counties last year.

Click below to view the full version. Extra printed copies are available at our office and a full digital version is available on our homepage at

We encourage you to share our work with friends and community members!
Welcome Terri!

We are pleased to welcome Terri Benson as our new Executive Administrative Assistant.

Terri most recently worked at the Business Incubator Center, seven years as the Mesa County Enterprise Zone Administrator and three years with the Revolving Loan Fund of Mesa County. She brings well-developed administration and organizational skills to our growing staff team.

Terri is a five-generation native of Mesa County who knows the county and Western Slope well, having spent her childhood roaming the Redlands area, camping with family in the mountains and desert, and living in Fruita for several years. She continues to enjoy camping and hiking all over the Western Slope with her husband and a series of rescue Brittany Spaniels, gardening, and writing novels.
25th Anniversary Business Partners
We would like to recognize and thank our Dreaming Forward Business Partners this 25th Anniversary year for their support and commitment to our mission of promoting local philanthropy and improving the quality of life for the people and communities of western Colorado. 

If you are interested in becoming a Dreaming Forward Business Partner, please contact Kristin Lynch at
Reflections from the President & CEO
Do any of you remember seeing a bumper sticker: It Will Be a Great Day When Our Schools Get All the Money They Need and the Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Bomber?

I am not a proponent of either/or thinking here. Funding our military is important. The bumper sticker is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that our schools and extracurricular activities struggle to find adequate resources for full student participation. This has been the case for many schools for many years.

I was a Band Mom for seven years at Palisade High School when both my children were involved in marching and concert bands. Music meant the world to them, and our family was blessed to be in the position of not only affording our children's uniform and participation fees, instruments and lessons, but we had the luxury of time to volunteer making peach pies, selling butter braids and washings cars to raise funds to support the band. I remember one year everyone's excitement that we had enough sousaphone players (marching trombones) to spell P-A-L-I-S-A-D-E in big maroon letters covering the horn openings and marching down Main Street. Eight sousaphone players is a lot! But we didn't have eight sousaphones, and those instruments are EXPENSIVE.

The generous estate gift of Pat and Tillie Bishop to our community addresses this long-standing funding issue. As we designed the roll-out of this program, our staff team interviewed all five high school principals, club advisors and others. One of the SBA bookkeepers at one of the high schools gushed, "Mrs. Bishop taught me typing! Years ago. She was such a wonderful teacher!"

It seems like almost everyone knew and loved Pat and Tillie Bishop. While I only came to know them in recent years, I had the pleasure of talking extensively with them about their community interests and philanthropy plans. It was a treat to work with Pat on articulating her intentions for this legacy donation.

Rest in peace, Pat and Tillie Bishop. And please know what a wonderful gift you are giving the high school students of this community. 

-- Anne Wenzel

The Western Colorado Community Foundation is confirmed in compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations by the Council on Foundations.
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